2019 has truly been an amazing year for live music.
Everything we could've asked for—from intimate shows mounted by our favorite local acts to massive festivals featuring the artists ruling the world stage—came and surely delivered.
Here are some of the best shows of 2019.
Ely Buendia & The Itchyworms: Greatest Hits
It might have taken three years of pangungulit before Ely handed over a piece of tissue from the 90s that would become ‘Pariwara,’ but all it took was a few hours for us to understand that Ely Buendia and The Itchyworms go beyond the songs they have written together. There is a certain dynamic there and it makes us want to see more of them, see more of this.
Creative Nights: Gus Albor and CRWN
CRWN warmed up the crowd with tracks from his 2018 beat tape Orchid, while the audience swayed to his tunes with drinks on hand. Other attendees sat at the Creative Station to create their own artistic collaborations with their friends and loved ones. Albor subsequently took the stage, which was mounted in partnership between Ayala Museum and Bandwagon Philippines, with his flute and jammed with famed guitarist Kowboy Santos and percussionist Wam Molina. His exhibit Territory, which features a collection of works from 1969 - 2018, was then opened for viewing, behind the stage and the third floor of the museum.
Wanderland Magic 2019
For the first time ever, we had not one, but two days of exciting activities, astonishing art, and wickedly good music. It’s very interesting to note, too, how different those two days were. It's as if you were magically transported into a different event, even if it looked exactly the same. Each day was set with varying expectations and experiences. The mood, vibe, and crowd on Day 1 is reminiscent of the older and humble beginnings of Wanderland, while Day 2 showcased similarities to last year's festival.
This year, The 1975 came back with more than a promise. They returned to organize an intimate reunion, composed of the cleared cache and archived messages between online interactions as established by their third album A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships.
"This tour has been all about showing up in person and saying 'thank you, guys, so much,'" Mike Shinoda said at one point during the concert, grateful for his followers' support. "Two years ago, I felt like I was just gonna stop doing music all together, so to be able to be up here now at the end of an awesome tour cycle, seeing wonderful faces like yours, I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart, thank you."
Karpos Live Mix 6: Unique + Jordan Rakei
The crowd was boogieing throughout the night, feet shuffling and bodies bouncing about for hours at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent, until the sixth edition of Karpos Live (9/1) came to a close. Spellbound, almost everyone – fans, musicians, and photographers – couldn’t help but let loose and groove along to the music.
Rico Blanco x IV of Spades
From the two full sets jam-packed with memorable numbers down to the tear-jerking mash up of Rico Blanco's 'Your Universe' IV of Spades' and 'Mundo,' it was definitely a show that brought its audience to cry to everyone they knew, "you just had to be there!"
American Football played nine songs that captured the audience for the hour they held the stage, turning everyone to royalty (with handmade paper crowns) by 'Heir Apparent' as the crowd clamored for more.
The band then returned for their encore, which included 'Stay Home,' 'I Can't Feel You' (again with Dee Cruz), and the iconic emo anthem, 'Never Meant', which has spawned thousands of memes and parodies in the last 20 years.
Daniel Caesar walked in after his band and, even without a well-orchestrated entrance or spotlight, he brought warmth, optimism, and truthful wisdom encapsulated in his music. He opened his set with 'Cyanide,' crooning about the color of one’s skin as “rich dark chocolate, sweet melanin”. Then, he paused to exclaim how great he feels to be back in Manila.
Thousands of Caviteños made their way to the open grounds in the City of Imus Polytechnic Institute to rock and thrash to the live music of their favorite local heavy acts Kamikazee, Greyhoundz, Typecast, Urbandub, and more alongside Singapore's Caracal and Mi Ultimo, Japan's Nothing to Declare, Australia's The Weight of Silence, and Thailand's Stay Awake.
All of the Noise 2019
All of the Noise 2019 marked their first showcase festival with music talks, performances, and a music market.
The evening was also blessed by the breathtaking appearances of Cambio for their highly anticipated reunion, Cheats together with Ely Buendia for their collab 'Grizzly Pool,' and of course the headlining performances of Deafheaven and Delta Sleep.
PULP Summer Slam 19
Over 30,000 slameros hit their home in the summer to thrash in glory with their brethren Remnants, SOG, Lostthreads, SIN, Her Name In Blood, Emmure, SikTh, and Thy Art Is Murder. And it could be the last Slam at the iconic stadium that consecutively staged the longest running heavy metal festival in Southeast Asia, making PSS:XIX one hell of an evening no metalhead should've missed.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Literally magical. The highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone In Concert swept us off our feet and onto our imaginary broomsticks long before the orchestra's first note of the live score was played. Magic spilled from the silver screen and onto The Theater at Solaire on the 14th night of September, when Potterheads (who sold out the first show, might we add) swarmed at the lobby to have their photos taken by the Hogwarts backdrops and to marvel at the acceptance letters floating in the air. While not all attendees were in their full robes, most came donning a flash of red, green, blue or yellow — a nod to their house color, no doubt. Yes, there really was a "significant display of house pride," as concert maestro Gerard Salonga put it. It was, after all, a Hogwarts homecoming.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen came to Manila to prove that despite the hardships we all faced in recent years, there's still time to have a good time and let our EMOTIONS run wild. In feel good tunes and rainbow tulle, she is pop music personified, of course. There's no denying it.
Throughout the show, Bono kept wondering why it took U2 40 years to come to the Philippines, and the answer to that was simple—we didn’t have a venue large enough to accommodate the 200 ft x 45 ft hi-resolution video backdrop they brought with them, or any of the behemoth structures from their previous tours, for that matter. Indeed, a U2 show is an audio-visual experience, and the massive screen proved effective all throughout, particularly on 'Ultraviolet (Light My Way),' during which they showed images of notable women who have rewritten “herstory” by fighting the good fight, including journalist Maria Ressa, women’s rights movement #BabaeAko, activists Joan Carling and Lidy Nacpil, and more.